Pianoforall – 2020
Recently, 250,000 students have attested to the superiority of Pianoforall, as an online course to teach anyone how to play the piano like a professional. It has become famous because of its reputation in producing musicians who can read musical sheets, work the keyboard as they play by ear, make improvisations and even compose songs! All of these leanings by merely enrolling in their online course.
According to the creator Robin Hall, Pianoforall’s approach is on a “play the piano first and shoot all your questions later” basis, and it seems to work for its vast student base. Each lesson is designed to be short and taught in the most rational way possible to learn how to play the piano excellently.
So, does it live up to its built reputation? Keep reading to know more about Pianoforall and decide if their piano e-course is something you want to get into.
What are the Requirements?
If you’re planning on enrolling on an online course to learn piano, it goes without saying that you need to have a keyboard or piano at hand. You will need this to rehearse your pieces and execute all the leanings you will get from the program.
Though you have various options on the type of keyboard that you can buy, the guiding principle in choosing is to purchase one that closely resembles an acoustic piano. There are digital keyboards with completely weighted keys to give that real piano feel and help strengthen your fingers and enhance your techniques.
You can pick between a 61-key or 88-key digital piano. Still, it’s highly recommended to purchase the latter, making sure that the keys are fully weighted if you are serious about being a proficient musician.
To support you in your course, Pianoforall has e-books that you can freely download onto your devices as part of the program. The website will give you instructions on how to set up these programs onto your computer or tablet.
What is the Program all about?
When you decide to enroll in the course, you will quickly realize how comprehensive it is judging by the number of inclusions into your fees. With your one-time payment, you will get the following:
Audio exercises and tunes (500)
These audio clips allow you to listen to each musical piece before you try and learn them. It will benefit every student in their auditory exercises.
Video lessons (200)
These videos show creator Robin Hall explaining and showing how to play every lesson on the keyboard. While he demonstrates, the sound plays, and the screen shows how your hands and fingers should be positioned on your piano, and you can see the notes that he is hitting on the keyboard. These clips will further enhance your skills as a learner of music.
Your course includes nine digital books which feature an extensive list of theories, exercises, tunes and chords in multiple musical styles for every learner. It has one bonus book on top of the first 9.
To give you a thorough idea of what each e-book contains, below are the descriptions for each of them. Each book prepares the student for the succeeding one as every lesson builds on the theories and exercises taught in the previous book. From Books 1-8, the idea is to go from one after another in chronological order. Book 9 and the bonus book are stand-alone manuals for every student and may be tackled separately.
Book – Rhythm Style
Because this is the first book, its purpose is merely introductory for both the course and the piano lessons. It talks about who Pianoforall is and its guiding principles in teaching the program.
Pianoforall believes that it’s essential to lay the necessary foundation before moving forward into the course’s main body. Students must be proficient in rhythms and chords before they learn about anything else. They will know about sight-reading, composing melodies, and doing improvisations later on in the course, but in Book 1, their focus will be on building a solid knowledge and skills base.
Though this book starts at the basics, such as familiarising you with musical notes on your keyboard, it lets you play right away (with straightforward chords like three-note pieces). Like learning how to work a guitar, it’s typical of a learner to want to handle a piano immediately and try out some smooth tunes.
While some old-school programs spend a vast amount of time on this initial stage, Pianoforall breezes through it but encourages students to keep coming back to the necessary lessons to serve as a reminder to master the basics while moving on to more challenging concepts.
This book covers basic rhythm, rests, musical notations, and the chord family (total learning of 11 chords and ten rhythms). These sets of chords will allow you to play off songbooks while singing along the contemporary songs popular today.
The “Amazing Broken Chord Ballad” is also part of the ensemble that you will learn to play in this course.
Book 2 – Blues/Rock & Roll
Now that you have learned about the simplest of chords, you can rock this lesson! This book teaches you about the rhythm of blues, all five of them, and the 12-bar blues across various keys. This course is quite short, and it focuses on guiding you to become adept in your left hand striking the keys more than your right. The goal is to study the chords so well that you can hear them even in your slumber!
Book 3 – Chord Magic
As the previous book was short, this one is on the heavy side. You will be walked through every chord in every key as well as the inversions. Because the information may seem overwhelming, the book helps you out by introducing you to memory tricks on all chords so you can get a handle on everything and remember them well.
The “cycle of fifths” is also taught as every student becomes familiar with all the keys. Also, the interrelationship among them and the general musical structure are dealt with as well.
Book 4 – Advanced Chords
In this book, students will continue to read from chord symbols in songbooks and learn about advanced chords using a “magic formula.” A piece created after Barry Manilow’s style called the “Manilow Mood” will help learners adapt his musicality before they even begin developing their own.
The course will have students go through a progression of practices to teach cluster chords and diminished ones. Apart from Manilow style, the Beatles’ unique brand of music will also be guided through various songs, which will be playable with all the chords and rhythms established in previous books.
Book 5 – Ballad
Another fantastic style of music to learn is the ballad, and it will be the emphasis of this book. Students will learn through a step by step procedure to create ballad songs. The left-hand aptitude cultivated earlier in the program will be in use as well as the pentatonic scale.
In this book, the learners will begin with their improvisations. They will create their melodies, chord progressions, and patterns with their left hand. The song “Auld Lang Syne” will act as a guide and will help students build melodies from the very bottom going up.
The book includes lyric sheets for various ballad songs for students to practice and some Christmas carols. They will learn about melody in a more profound sense and will get to play solo musical pieces at length.
Book 6 – Jazz/Blues
This book aims to get you highly skilled in blues and jazz, so the module is quite comprehensive in this area. There is a specific sound for blues music using the scales, chords, and tricks to give off that bluesy vibe.
For jazzy tunes, on the other hand, the approach is to let students listen to advanced jazz songs and pick up the signature rhythms off them. This type of music will be on four different keys and taught through tricks and tips in the execution of improv music, jazzy style. Practice progressions will come into play as everyone gets used to jazz’s stylings and can imbibe it in their music.
Quartal harmony and seventh chords are also part of this book’s coverage.
Book 7 – Fake Stride and Advanced Blues
In Book 2, students learned about left-hand agility on the keyboard. In this book, the course will build on that and teach you about right-hand riffs. Your knowledge of advanced chords in Book 4 will be useful as you apply both hands to create blues rhythms. This emphasis on the blues will require students to be familiarised with other equipment such as turnarounds, slides, and tremolo.
Stride piano will also be discussed, to include the fake and the real ones, with the distinction being on the stride length employed by your hands.
The song, “The Entertainer,” will test out your knowledge so far in the program.
Book 8 – The Classics
In this part of the course, students will be relying mainly on musical sheets as they play. This way, they get to rehearse their reading of musical notations, musical language, key signatures, new symbols, and tips and tricks acquired in previous lessons. This book gives every learner a list of some more techniques to practice on.
The Pianoforall way of sight-reading music is strengthened in this book as students identify familiar motifs and chords, and flat or sharp notes when they play. They will be introduced to classical pieces by Chopin, Bach, and Beethoven, among others. Students are encouraged to spend a substantial amount of time practising in this part of the course so they can build expertise on tone, pedalling, and reading musical sheets.
Book 9 – Speed Learning
This book is about arpeggios, triads, and scales, which are considered the “vegetables” of piano courses. They are not meat, but they are essential in gaining the necessary skills and improving your keyboard competence.
This addition to the eight previous books is your practice module, as it includes workout routines and tricks that will be seared into your memory as you keep on rehearsing. Your knowledge of melodic patterns, seventh chords, triads, and key signatures will be further deepened as you go through the lessons in Book 9.
Bonus Book: Mindfulness
As mentioned earlier, this is a stand-alone book and may be read and practised at any point in the course. It talks about how you can develop focus and channel your inner creativity by techniques on mindfulness that will prove beneficial for anybody trying to learn a musical instrument.
What are the Downside and Upside?
Like any other endeavour, your decision to enrol with Pianoforall has its share of advantages and disadvantages that you need to consider.
A logical progression of lessons
The digital books included in the course may be plain-looking. Still, they were developed to be aesthetically clean and with more emphasis on how the lessons are organised to make sure that students gradually learn to be proficient in their skill as they move along the program. The concepts are laid out quite clearly and are developed for easy readability and comprehension.
Compared to traditional piano courses, the Pianoforall emphasises the use of the left hand on the keyboard before the right. Most classes will start with excellence on the right side and then move on to lessons for the left hand to keep up. This program will take the other approach. It will not allow your left hand to be lazy as it gives you a lot of practice music to work your remaining fingers.
Playing by ear
This program also encourages students to invoke their inner musicality. They are allowed to play by ear, compose their melodies, and improvise. These techniques are often overlooked in other piano courses.
Pianoforall also employs contemporary songs in their practice sheets. Besides being familiar with the melody of these pieces, students will also enjoy their lessons as they play the songs that are typically part of their daily playlist.
Jumpstart on the piano
Students are tasked to play on the piano on the very first lesson (simple chords), so there is a feeling of accomplishment and fulfilment even as you have just started.
Lessons are taught via auditory and visual means, as Pianoforall provides both media to show the content of the digital books and the entire curriculum. Students who have difficulty reading musical sheets will be guided with visual aids at the beginning until they become comfortable dealing with them.
No notation terms and symbols
The only symbols and terms covered in the course are those that you will need to be able to play by reading off lyric sheets, playing by ear and improvising. Other complicated musical markings on these sheets are not discussed.
Pianoforall recommends students who want to go beyond the coverage of this program to find supplement courses to achieve such. Some tackle the many symbols and terms of musical notations.
No priority on reading music
The e-books provided in the course give the names of the musical symbols and notes in every sheet, so even if you are “reading” the notes, you may just be looking at the labels supplied. The course, however, aims to teach you to be an adept reader of musical sheets, but there is the possibility of failure in this area.
Less emphasis on techniques
As anyone who has tried the traditional piano programs, considerable emphasis is put on techniques that include body movements, finger positioning, wrist movements, posture, hand positions, and the like to make sure that you are executing like a pro when you play the piano.
Any online course will be lacking in this respect because of the nature of virtual lessons. It is not particular to Pianoforall only but to all music lessons using the online platform. However, not all will not be able to address this shortcoming as there are YouTube videos where you can learn all these physical aspects of playing musical instruments.
Who is the Target Market?
Beginners and beyond
The design of the program is geared towards beginners. However, since the teaching approach and the techniques focused on are entirely out of the ordinary, even those who have gone through previous piano courses will enjoy the lessons as they try and get a unique feel of learning the piano with improvisations and playing by ear methods.
Contemporary music lovers
Also, as mentioned earlier, Pianoforall employs modern-day musical pieces in their modules to teach rock and roll, jazz and blues, and other styles, so those looking to enhance their grasp on classical and traditional pieces will have to look elsewhere.
Book 8 gives the students a backgrounder and foundation on playing classical music, but it will not go so deep and merely teaches them to sight-read the sheets. If you want to further improve in this area, you will have to seek advanced lessons outside of the program.
Also, because Pianoforall allows students to dive straight into playing the piano at the onset of the course, it is meant for learners who are not so young. Adults and maybe teenagers will be more likely to want to jump right in and be able to play real songs rather than simple tunes, which are generally meant for children.
The playlist utilised over the course is also inclusive of songs that will be appreciated more by the adult generation. Let’s just say that they are a far cry from the nursery rhymes, such as “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” typical of early beginners of piano courses.
It’s essential to have a thorough idea of what the Pianoforall program includes and what it doesn’t so you can make an informed decision if this course is for you or not. The institution has its goal to make professional piano players out of the students but not in all aspects of this type of instrument.
As earlier discussed, classical music is outside the inclusion of this course. Still, you will be proficient in other areas such as if you want to be part of a band or take on requests to play some modern types of music, or just enjoy yourself while getting lost in your favourite songs.
Though the modules are limited to certain types of music, it will help you form a solid base of skills in playing the piano, which you can use to venture out into other fields. Pianoforall is an excellent program if you want to build your musical prowess starting from the very bottom going up. You will surely learn all the necessary snippets of musical knowledge to become confident in tackling your type of music on your own after the course